You’ll have to wait for Central Seattle’s only approved pot shop

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This Central District house stands at the address registered by Mello Times in its successful application to be one of the first legal marijuana stores in Seattle (Image: CHS)

If you want to be among the first to legally purchase recreational marijuana in Seattle, don’t go looking for it in the Central District (and definitely don’t go looking on Capitol Hill). Seattle’s first crop of marijuana shops are slated to open on July 8th, but the only licensed shop in central Seattle won’t be one of them.

John Branch told CHS his 24th and Union shop Mello Times may not open until August. Branch said he’s still building the business after finding out in May he would receive one of the city’s 21 retail marijuana licenses.

“People were assuming they would win (the lottery). I didn’t assume I would win,” he said.

Branch, a Seattle attorney, told CHS he was working to find distributors and put together a staff of up to 20 people for the new store. The appropriately green house that Mello Times is licensed to occupy doesn’t appear ready for a retail marijuana operation, either. A woman at the 1410 24th Ave home told CHS she and her family are still living in the house and they are planning to move out sometime this summer.

As of right now, there won’t be any retail marijuana shops on Capitol Hill. Aside from Mello Times, the next closest retail location is planned to be licensed at 1725 Westlake Ave inside one of the non-descript office buildings along the Westlake super-parking lot.

Marijuana and marijuana infused edibles can only be sold at stores that exclusively sell those products, so you won’t be buying legal joints at your regular corner store. Edibles may also take a while to work their way on to shelves as the state recently enacted stricter packaging rules and has yet to approve any packaging under the new guidelines. Controversial zoning restrictions surrounding schools and parks have so far kept licenses from being awarded on Capitol Hill and other seemingly sensible locations.

It is possible Branch could move his shop before opening, as state law allows some wiggle room for relocating if a lease agreement can’t be worked out. The 24th Ave house may not be the ideal location — the block is mostly residential, with even more residents slated to move in after Capitol Hill Housing redevelops the property across the street.

A resident in the apartment building that shares a parking lot with the Mello Times house said she was unaware that a marijuana shop was moving in and said she was concerned about having a shop so close to her kids.

One alternative location could be around the corner on Union, where landowner and business owner Ian Eisenberg had applied to open a marijuana shop. Eisenberg did not win a retail license from the state lottery.

While the state has seen a fair amount of ownership reshuffling and selling of licenses, Branch said he will open the shop himself and plans to have a booth at this year’s Seattle Hempfest to get the word out on Mello Times.

According to the state liquor board, there is no time by which a shop has to open after receiving its license. The earliest stores can open is July 8th.

Branch said his experience with the state and city has been exceptional, and that he didn’t see any opportunity for the area’s pot-loving community to help him open sooner.

“The process has been going very well,” he said. “It’s just the normal course of opening a business.”

UPDATE: The Seattle Times reports here on Cannabis City, expected to be the first retail shop to open in Seattle next week:

On Tuesday, Lathrop plans to open the doors to Cannabis City and become the first marijuana retailer in Seattle. For Lathrop and other pioneers of Washington’s newly legalized pot industry, cutting the ribbon marks the culmination of months of grueling preparation. Until last week, he and his business manager, Amber McGowan, worked as many as 16 hours a day to prepare the business for its first customers, as well as a two-hour state inspection, which they passed last week, he said.

23 thoughts on “You’ll have to wait for Central Seattle’s only approved pot shop

  1. Good thing there is a handy delivery service that will drop off much cheaper and higher quality pot right to my doorstep. The rollout of the stores has been terrible and there is no one to blame but the state and the incompetent people it employs.

    • The delivery businesses are, of course, illegal….possession is legal, but selling it is not, at least until the retail shops open, and then only these shops can sell….at that point, I assume there will be a crackdown on the delivery businesses, because they will still be illegal.

      • Amen to that. The state liquor board has been an utter clown car with getting these stores licensed. Everyone involved in this snafu should be fired and deported to Texas. I know a grower who has been through the Kafkaesque process of trying to get a license, and the stories he tells me are depressing. Apparently Colorado didn’t have much problem getting this show on the road. I suspect this whole sorry mess is being caused by Prohibitionists on the liquor board who disagree with the voters’ mandate to legalize.

      • Yes, the delivery services are technically illegal….but I have used one of them and they are great… I have the feeling if the state cracks down on them, and with the limited supply in stores that I’ve been seeing on the news, the black market will be alive and well. Pretty embarrassing how this has been handled overall.

        • Just because you think they are “great” does not make them OK. The delivery services are basically a part of the black market, because they are selling pot illegally…and this will continue to be true when the retail stores open.

          It’s a moot point, though, because the law as passed says that pot can only be sold in the retail stores (and possibly the medical-marijuana outlets, although that it unclear)…..so I can’t imagine that there will not be a crackdown on the delivery market.

    • I’m curious….given the first possible conceivable day that pot could be legally sold would have been July 1st, and we are sitting at July 2nd, and stores may be open as of July 8th, and we have a real-live actual future retailer here saying “his experience with the state and city has been exceptional”….on what are we basing the statement “The rollout of the stores has been terrible”?

      • My understanding is that WCLCB is intentionally restricting supply in order to drive the price up for various reasons. On tv, the owner of a south Seattle marijuana shop said he’d be selling for 20-50 dollars per gram. That’s nuts, $17 might be acceptable , but only for the top end stuff.

        Also, very few growing licenses have actually been given out, I know someone who has apparently been close to the front of the line for months now. The stores may be opening soon, but there is going to be a supply bottleneck as long as they drag their feet with approving growers.

        Who is going to stop calling their dealer so they can go buy weed for $20-50 per gram? They might be able to sell to those who are very interested in buying it legally, but this seems like it won’t have much of an impact on the illegal market.

  2. It seems the LCB are fighting tooth and nail to keep themselves busy and employed while drafting the parameters of legalized pot and in doing so are pretty much going to make it impossible for business who hoped to sell, actually sell it in Seattle. I don’t smoke pot so I’m not personally vested in what happens either way but with all the red tape that is binding the actual launch – its really a joke at this point. Of course this is Seattle so it’s to be expected.

    The PI article sums it up well…

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/marijuana/2014/06/30/analysis-why-legal-marijuana-stores-wont-matter-much-in-seattle/#24345101=0

    • LCB has taken a cautious approach, trying to implement a tight market that doesn’t provoke the feds. They may have been overcautious, but it’s understandable.

  3. What happens to all of those medical MJ stores? Do they continue to operate as-is or do they all shut their doors now?

    There are several of those around Capitol Hill and the CD…

    • The medical dispensaries are operating in a legal grey area. So unless/until our state legislature takes action, they’ll probably continue happily along…

  4. Prohibitionists, tough shirt. You can’t win them all. Try working hard next time.

    Maybe you ultra-competent square Sgt Stedenkos out there might not get defeated by a bunch of supposedly stoned hippies, if you had self-discipline like us.

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